More from: taxes

The Best Internet Deal for Consumers

If you are now or are considering buying Internet services from Frontier, you should be aware of their treatment of their customers. Also be aware that Comcast provides faster service 60/60 for $30/month (not 50/50 for $60) with no extra fees (not for non-existent “taxes” or any other fabricated excuse), and Comcast’s commitment includes FREE unlimited service for up to four (4) mobile phones, and FREE WiFi every time you are near a Xfinity access point. There is a reason Frontier is in financial trouble!

I feel that a huge problem with Frontier has been adding extra fees into telephone and other consumer charges, after making a commitment for services – typically increasing the consumer’s cost by $20 or more per month over the amount to which the consumer agreed. Frontier also charges “rental” fees for “required” equipment that they routinely (40%-50% of the time) do not deliver. I feel that at the very least their billing policy is unethical and very likely illegal.

I feel Frontier is brazen and unapologetic in what I feel is deliberate billing abuse. The two actual billings above are for essentially the same services. Comcast charges $30, period. Frontier a little more and then adds several hard to verify “taxes and other charges” the customer is supposed to simply accept without thinking. Frontier implies these “taxes and other charges” are required, but Comcast apparently is not required to charge them for the same service to the same customers in the same State. Both cannot be telling the truth, can they?

Frontier is the surviving fragment of the historic Baby Bells: it has the ultimate state-of-the-art technology buried under the hubris of the traditional and obsolete over stuffed management structure – the cake is really excellent but there is too much frosting for this cake to remain edible. If Frontier is not forced to modernize their business model we are in danger of loosing community access to the technology.

No individual citizen can compel Frontier to change. We had hoped Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill would do better than this with a class action to make whole all Indiana consumers who were involuntarily charged “rental fees” for routers that Frontier never delivered, or to restore money collected for “taxes” that are rightfully due from Frontier, not the Indiana consumer.

Mr. Nash is not “disputing his bill” he is asking Indiana to compel what he feels are abusive and/or fraudulent utility oligopolies to comply with Indiana and Federal consumer law as it would apply to any other Indiana business.

A side note or importance: Frontier keeps referring to a charge for a router, which for about half of their customers they do not even deliver but charge a monthly rental fee. Comcast also will provide a router and charge a monthly rental fee. Comcast’s router, by the way, allows any Comcast customer in range to connect to Xfinity WiFi. If you are in a place of business which buys Comcast services and has their router, your own Comcast login credentials allow you seamlessly to use that business’s WiFi.

While Frontier extracts the rental fee over their customer’s objections, Comcast has no problem if their customer would prefer to simply buy a compatible router and not pay any monthly rental fee. Companies like to collect rental fees because they never end and so represent a permanent income. If you buy a router outright you have a clear one time expense that does not give the company a perpetual income. Your payback period on a router is about one year ($89-$120 outright for a router vs $10 every month forever to rent).

The issue here is not a router, it is extra charges placed into the bill and represented to the customer as required by government instead of being honestly disclosed at the time the customer agrees to terms and honored in the billing. This is legally known as BAIT & SWITCH: the company promises one thing in their advertising then charges you something else. At the very best the company “discloses” the extra charges in tiny print that you are not supposed to notice. If you doubt my observation, buy services from Frontier and at the time you are ordering try to get them to commit to exactly how much these extra charges will be: you are morally entitled to know the exact amount in advance before you agree. You will be told it is about this much but we can’t really know until you are billed. And Frontier’s advertising will never say you will be charged $39 for Internet plus $18 for other charges for a total cost of $57. This would compare unfavorably with Comcast (and other competitors) at $30.

Picture of justice

Picture of justice

The document returned from Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office is as follows. Essentially, AG Hill decided Frontier should investigate itself and Frontier decided that Frontier did nothing wrong. Whodathunkit!

Complaint Number: 11561091 Company Code:

Customer Name: John Nash Phone: 2603730914

Thank you for referring the complaint of John Nash to our office for review. We appreciate Mr. Nash bringing this matter to our attention.

The Complaint states that:

  • Mr. Nash is disputing his bill for services with Frontier.

Frontier has investigated the above statements and offers the following response:

  • Our Frontier Residential Gateway(router) is Frontier equipment provided with every service order and specifically designed to work with our service. Our advertising and our residential Internet terms and conditions make it clear that our service includes equipment charges, such as the router charge, and neither our advertisements nor our terms and conditions provide any exceptions. A customer may choose to use their own router, but if the customer does, our router charge continues to apply. Also, we cannot support or repair the non -Frontier equipment.

  • Though infrequent, when a customer chooses to use a non-Frontier router, we see increased complaints and more difficulty with troubleshooting, performing online resets, and providing simple resolutions, so it costs more to serve that customer. Therefore, if a customer uses their own router, the charge still applies to cover these cost. Frontier cannot support or repair non-Frontier equipment.

  • Mr. Nash requested to upgrade his Internet service to the Fios 50/50 speed. The upgrade took place on September 6, 2019. Once the upgrade took place the customer should have received a new modem, which he did not.

  • Frontier advised Mr. Nash that the price would be $53.99 per month for the Fios 50/50 speed. The Frontier agent did not advise the customer that he would receive a new modem or that he would see the $10.00 router fee on his bill. Frontier did not send Mr. Nash a modem like they should have.

  • Mr. Nash has disconnected his account due to the new modem fee.

  • Frontier issued a credit of $9.99 for the shipping and handling of the new modem since the customer was never sent one. Frontier also issued a credit of $10.00 for the router fee charged on the September bill.

  • Frontier spoke to Mr. Nash and explained all of the above.

We trust that this information will assist you in closing this complaint. We regret any inconvenience that Mr. Nash may have experienced as a result of the above matter.

Frontier Specialist: Tami Lee Department: Customer Relations

Telephone Number: 1-844-320-4445 Ext 1122543 Fax Number: 1-518-773-3717


Trade News Moves the Market

This just in via email from Oak Partners, Inc. <crystal.dehaven@oakpartners.com>

The Week on Wall Street

Stocks fell sharply at the start of last week over trade tensions, then recovered with help from strong earnings and indications that U.S.-China trade talks would continue. Even so, the major indices had a down week. The S&P 500 lost 0.76%, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.27%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.69%.

In contrast, the MSCI EAFE benchmark for international stocks rose 0.19%.[1][2]

The Latest Trade Developments

A broad selloff occurred Monday after China announced it would respond to increased U.S. tariffs by boosting its own import taxes on $60 billion of U.S. products. Friday morning, the Street breathed a sigh of relief as the Trump administration decided to delay 25% tariffs planned for imported cars and car parts; they had been slated to take effect on May 18. Just hours later, President Trump announced an end to U.S. tariffs on metals coming from Canada and Mexico.

At midweek, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin told reporters that he expected the U.S. to resume trade negotiations with China in “the near future.”[3][4][5]

Earnings Season Winds Down

The first-quarter earnings scorecard is nearly complete, as more than 90% of S&P 500 companies have reported actual Q1 results.

Stock market analytics firm FactSet notes that 76% of these firms have beaten consensus earnings-per-share estimates. Overall earnings for S&P 500 components have surpassed expectations by 5.4%. Both these percentages are above 5-year averages.[6]

Final Thought

The market is quite sensitive to trade developments at the moment, and it is unclear whether this will be a short-term trend or a long-term influence on prices. While the U.S. prepares its next moves, China also is preparing its response to any new U.S. tariffs, which could include manipulating its currency.


[1] www.wsj.com/market-data

[2] quotes.wsj.com/index/XX/990300/historical-prices

[3] www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china/tough-talk-from-china-leaves-trade-talks-with-u-s-in-limbo-idUSKCN1SN207

[4] www.marketwatch.com/story/mnuchin-says-he-expects-to-go-to-beijing-to-continue-trade-talks-in-the-near-future-2019-05-15

[5] www.npr.org/2019/05/17/724357441/u-s-to-lift-tariffs-on-canadas-and-mexico-s-steel-and-aluminum

[6] insight.factset.com/market-punished-sp-500-companies-reporting-negative-eps-surprises-in-q1


Tax Refunds Unaffected by “Shut Down”

This just in via email from IRS Newswire <irs@service.govdelivery.com>:

Issue Number: IR-2019-01

IRS confirms tax filing season to begin January 28

WASHINGTON ― Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service today confirmed that it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.

“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. 1324), and the IRS has consistently been of the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. Although in 2011 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a lapse, OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.

“IRS employees have been hard at work over the past year to implement the biggest tax law changes the nation has seen in more than 30 years,” said Rettig.

As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. For taxpayers who usually file early in the year and have all of the needed documentation, there is no need to wait to file. They should file when they are ready to submit a complete and accurate tax return.

The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019 for most taxpayers. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.

The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds.


Tax deadline extended

In email today from Indiana Department of Revenue, dor@subscriptions.in.gov

Individuals and businesses with a filing or payment due date of April 17 will now have until midnight on Wednesday, April 18 to file electronically. Taxpayers do not need to do anything to receive this extra time.

The IRS encountered system issues Tuesday morning. Throughout the system outage, taxpayers were still able to file their tax returns electronically through their software providers and Indiana freefile. Taxpayers using paper to file and pay their taxes at the deadline were not affected by the system issue.

Both the IRS and DOR advise taxpayers to continue to file their taxes –electronically or paper – if they have not already done so.


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